Del Worsham is having a career season in Top Fuel. Photo: Anne Proffit
It's been quite an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season for Del Worsham, 41, who until three years ago drove for his father Chuck in the Funny Car ranks. Theirs wasn't the proverbial "shoe string" effort but it certainly didn't have the backing Worsham currently enjoys.
Asked to join Al-Anabi Racing when the team was formed to compete driving in a Funny Car owned by Sheikh Khalid al Thani and managed by Alan Johnson Racing, Worsham continued to do well - but not well enough to win on a regular basis, something the Sheikh needed to see.
That was when Johnson decided to make a change. Rather than replace Worsham with someone else in the Al-Anabi Funny Car, Johnson decided the real advantage would be to add Worsham's talents to the Top Fuel team anchored by 2010 and three-time champion Larry Dixon. After all, it's a well-known axiom in motorsports that a two-car team is better prepared than a single entity.
Johnson gave Worsham all the tools he needed to succeed: the car that Dixon used to win last year's Top Fuel title and crew chief Brian Husen, making his first appearance as a Top Fuel crew chief this year.
The results have been heady thus far. In seven final round appearances, Worsham has six victories - pretty much mirroring Dixon's near-perfect run last year. It's a special time for the Chino Hills, CA resident who now has 31 wins on his resume.
"It's been unreal," Worsham said after qualifying second in Seattle and finishing first in the 14th of 22 scheduled races, extending his lead over second-place Don Schumacher Racing driver Spencer Massey to 126 points. "To watch this Al-Anabi team work is amazing. They gave me a great car that could win. This team is so detail-oriented and just really good at what they do," he said humbly.
There are still two races to go before the six-contest Countdown to 1 playoff series begins on the zMax dragstrip near Charlotte Motor Speedway. At this point in time, it would take a herculean effort for Massey - or anyone else - to usurp Worsham as the leader and No. 1 seed of the Top Fuel pack.
Del Worsham is having a career year and loving it. He's still a totally accessible driver and remains as humble as he was before he became the "driver du jour" in NHRA's pit area. Is this his year to reach the pinnacle of straight-line racing? The season doesn't end until November but Del Worsham's on a mighty quick freight train to success.
© 2011 Anne Proffit